Just over a week ago, I turned 30. This is a big deal, but, on the whole, not exactly unexpected. (I’m no psychic, but this, I totally saw coming.) And actually, it was fun — my fabulous cousin flew down from Michigan to help me celebrate, and there was good food and drinks, and honestly, no room for complaint. I mean, hell, there was Mexican food and a tiara. Oh, and also? My husband was back from Hawaii and had bought me a really beautiful necklace that I didn’t even have to pick out. NO COMPLAINTS FROM ME.

Then, a week ago today, we sent Holly (our latest foster pup) to the vet. I suspected some hip issues, and I was right — degenerative hip disease, which will likely need surgery. Which means that her chances of getting adopted were, more or less, zip. Jared and I were both totally in love with her (big surprise), so, although the news was sad, it helped us make an important decision — we’re keeping her. So, yay! We’re back to being an official two-dog family!

That night, after I went to bed, the phone rang — it was my parents’ ring tone, and I just knew something was wrong. It was. My Grandma Sara had passed away.

Like the birthday, this wasn’t a huge shock. She had turned 91 the week before. She’d been battling Alzheimer’s for over a decade. And for the last couple of weeks, she had become more and more jaundiced. We knew the end was coming, but didn’t know if we were looking at days or weeks or months.

It’s never easy losing someone you love, whether you expect it or not. And though not everyone will understand this, in some ways, a sense of relief accompanied her passing. She died peacefully, in her sleep — she hadn’t experienced much pain, and someone had been at her bedside moments before she died. Our greatest fear had been that her death would be slow and agonizing, that the strength of her body would betray her and drag out the pain. It didn’t, and though I’m not particularly religious, I have no doubt that the prayers we had been sending up made that transition easier.

Additionally, though I wasn’t there for those last moments, I had seen her just days before — my cousin, who had spent lots of time with her as a child, was there as well.  I don’t think she truly recognized me, but I know for a fact she was happy to see us both.

In so many ways, we lost her years ago, but it’s still hard to know that she’s gone. No more visits. No more feeble hopes that she’ll say something, or give any indication that she knows who we are. No more stumbling over my words, trying to find something interesting to say to the grandmother I had spent so many afternoons with and watched as she deteriorated year after year after year.

Grandma Sara taught me so many things, but I think the biggest lesson I’ve taken away is this: It’s inner beauty that counts, and being kind is far more important than being gorgeous. But, a little rouge and some bright lipstick never hurt anybody, either.

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